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The Plastic

This is our “favorite” material. This is maybe the most nature unfriendly material. Even though, for most of the other raw materials the separate waste collection is a good answer, the question with the plastic is a little bit different.

Before we reach to that – here are some facts. 8% from the fast disappearing world petrol deposits are used to produce plastic – 4% are necessary for raw material and 4% more for energy. In the process of production is used a lot of water. The worst thing is that together with the plastic we create enormous quantities of garbage, toxins and tons of carbohydrate emissions. Once thrown at the garbage, the plastic is degrading for about 500 years and during this time is pollutes the soil, water and, in general, everything. One hundred tons of plastic per year are produced worldwide.

Even more “impressive” are the facts connected with the plastic bags. Maybe it will be interesting for you to learn that for one year worldwide are used 1,2 billion plastic bags (you understand that number, don't you – 1,2 with 18 zeros behind). This means on the average 300 pieces for an adult or 1 million for one minute. It has been calculated that on average one bag is use approximately for 12 minutes before it is thrown out. And you remember – to degrade it takes 500 years...

There is no doubt that in this case the process of recycling saves raw material as well as energy. To produce one plastic bag from recycled plastic, for example, two third from the energy and 90% from the water are saved. The carbohydrate emissions are reduced two and a half times. Every plastic product, suitable for recycling, bears a sign which shows with a number and an abbreviation the type of plastic – PET for polythene, PVC for polyvinyl chloride, PS for polisterin and other.

Nevertheless, big quantities plastic are recycled solely as a part from the production process. Then polymers that are not used in the production process are melted. This is a common practice in many factories. The problems appear at recycling the plastic from the household. First, the separate collection is economically unfavorable due to the fact the plastic is a light material. To make it profitable, big quantities and volume are necessary, and they are collected difficultly. At the same time the demand for recycled plastic is low and this makes the stimulus even less. The recycling process itself is also problematic. Before the melting, the raw material has to be sorted out according to the type and color of the polymer. This process is laborious and a few factories can perform it mechanically. Not all kinds of plastic are recycled easily. It is especially difficult to recycle the polisterini – the plastic which is used to make the yogurt buckets. In many cases the factories produce a plastic of mixed type which is difficult to identify and recycle.

That is why the sign for recycling on the package is very important for the separate waste collection. It is not enough only to be present. There has to be a number and written with letters the type of plastic. Only this well labeled plastic will be recycled.

The problem with the plastic cups at the offices is a big one as well but it could be solved easily – by replacing them with ceramic. Here the personal example is not useless.

There is good news – a new generation of plastic is in use – biodegradable PLA. It is produced from corn and some big store chains use it, like the American Wal-Mart and Wild Oats. If PET is difficult to recycle, PLA is simply soil fertilizer. In Bulgaria, we still cannot choose between these two but we can choose other material instead of plastic.



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